Answering Islam Email Dialogs


Topic: Polygamy

Received: 7 October 2004

Subject: Polygamy Article

As-salaamu-a'laikum:

Thank you for this site. As a Muslim, I always appreciate Islaam more when Christians so-called answer Islaam.  Such dialoge leads to research which in turn leads to proof of the truth of Islaam and the falsehood of Christianity.

Now in terms of the Polygamy link. You site that in most countries men do not out number women.  And you quote the CIA as a reference. The same CIA claiming there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq I presume?

At any rate, if you visit the Census Bureau web-site, I trust you will find that contrary to the CIA numbers you provide a link to, the age at which women begin to out number men in the US is actually 35 to 39 years.

But despite you false data, inaccurate at best, often overlooked is that the Qur'aan says "Marry the single from among you".  Polygamy is only mention in reference to 'dealing with orphans".  So if every women could find a man to marry in her age group, no need for polygamy at all.

But polygamy does not need an excuse, because all of the prophets, even those referenced in your bible had more than one wife. ie. abraham, moses, david, solomon.  However, the West, the country of the cross, would much rather have women be single than share a husband. Under Christian lands, you much rather have prostitutes and mistresses.

So if polygamy is evil somehow, so would be the prophets of god. But then Christians say god all of a sudden changed his mind and outlawed it. But this is yet another falsehood.

I look forward to reviewing your site more. In the meantime, you might want to come up with some rationale for the Census Bureau number showing women outnumber men at age 35. In America that is. Contrary to the CIA numbers.


Our answer:

Warm Greetings,

Thank you for taking the time and effort to write on an important subject where the differences between Islam and Christianity are profound. There is no question that you are a strong Muslim believer and that you believe that Islam has the answers to all human problems and situations. I believe you have raised some important points that would demonstrate some of the fundamental differences between Christianity and Islam.

To be fair, I had to do some research to provide my commentary to your contribution. I consulted some colleagues with good knowledge of Islam and they provided important inputs and I felt they provided even stronger arguments than yours from the Islamic jurisprudence (Fiqh) viewpoint. To summarize, I was pointed to the key Qur’anic reference in Sura 4, Aaya 3,

"And if ye fear that ye will not deal fairly by the orphans, marry of the women, who seem good to you, two or three or four; and if ye fear that ye cannot do justice (to so many) then one (only) or (the captives) that your right hands possess. Thus it is more likely that ye will not do injustice."

I am told that Islamic scholars have invariably taught that the main rationale for this "divinely" sanctioned polygamy is that of social justice, whereby every woman is guaranteed a "guardian." With the death of a husband with children (now orphans), the widow is at a loss and hence, if someone would marry her there is security, a family life and continued strength of the community. Furthermore, since one of the important aspects of Islam is the Sunnah of the Apostle (Rasool), we are told that he married even more than four women for a variety of reasons, most of which were political. We are told also that marriage in Islam is so important that the Rasool had forbidden anyone to become like a monk "Let there be no Monasticism in Islam" [Hadith]. He urged his followers to marry and stated in his Hadith, "Islam is the religion of intercourse" [n Arabic: Al-Islaam deen-u-nnikaah]...

Yes, there is the requirement of equal treatment among the wives, but in practice, the various wives fight for these rights and some will invariably have more rights than the others. After all when one wife is 50 and the second is in her twenties or teens, there could be some bias toward the younger one, would you not agree? The comforting news is that in most Islamic societies today, polygamy is not widely practiced and when it is, there are family disputes. In discussing the matter with many of our Muslim colleagues, they agree that polygamy, although still on the books, is on the wane, a thing of the past. However, I would be interested to know if you personally have taken more than one wife, or plan to do so.

I would like next to consider your comment about polygamy among the biblical prophets. There is no question that in Old Testament times, some of the prophets did have more than one wife – as the Law of Moses did not forbid it (though it was never a part of God’s original plan). The Scripture reveals that a small minority had more than one wife, but in general they only had one. You mentioned Abraham and Moses. Where does the Scripture speak of either of them having more than one wife at the same time? In Abraham’s case, he had only one proper wife, Sarah. True, she talked him into sleeping with her maid servant Hagar, but she never became Abraham's wife. Abraham married Keturah only after the death of Sarah. So then, where are all the prophets with multiple wives? You may want to make a study of this in the Scriptures: Make a list of all the prophets who had more than one wife, and then make a list of those about whom we only know of one wife. To get you started, here are some of those who had only one wife: Adam, Enoch, Noah, Joseph, Samuel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Elijah, Jonah, Hosea, Zacharias etc... Several wives are mentioned for David and Solomon, but that was due more to their role as kings, not because they were prophets (many of the kings of Israel had multiple wives, but hardly any of the prophets). It is interesting to note that the first polygamist mentioned in Scripture was also a cold-blooded murderer (see Genesis 4:19-24).

And, as any Bible student knows, when Jesus the Messiah came on the scene, He made it clear that God’s original intention from the beginning was: one man and one woman in a divinely sanctioned union (See for example: Matthew 19:1-10). In fact, the New Testament amplifies on this theme and looks at the union as a cord of three: the Husband and the wife under God. In God’s mind, marriage is intended to be a reflection of the close relationship He wants to have with His people (see Ephesians 5:22-33). Christianity is the fulfillment of God’s age-old promises and plan of salvation, and encompasses many facets, including the institution of marriage, which is built on the previous foundation as found in the Old Testament. That is why the Old and New Testaments form one book: the Bible. So what has changed from God’s perspective with the advent of Christianity?

There are many issues to point out, but I shall start with one whereby, Christ in His famous "Sermon on the Mount" said, "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." (Mathew 5:17-20; New International Version Translation)

In simple terms, what Christ meant is that the fulfillment of the Law (of Moses) was manifested by the final reconciliation of Mankind with God. The Law of Moses was a huge burden that no one was able to obey perfectly. One of the Law's purposes was to show us our inability to produce a righteousness that is acceptable to God. The "fulfillment" brought by Jesus the Messiah gave us the needed "rationale, indeed the good news" for explaining our existence and salvation. What emerges from this is a whole new understanding, with marriage becoming part of it. Of course this letter will not be able to do justice to the issue but can get us started on a journey together, if you want to continue with me.

Clearly, the arguments about statistics and the ratio of men and women are not even in the picture from the Christian perspective.* Somehow, Christian women have managed quite well throughout history, and I mean here TRUE Christian women. I mention that partly in response to the Islamic polygamy argument and also in response to your statement, "Under Christian lands, you much rather have prostitutes and mistresses." Believe me, we Christians, who love the Lord and His Word, are dismayed at the sexual decadence in Europe and America. However, it would be na´ve to assume that sexual decadence is limited to the West, as we are all too familiar with stories from all over the world on this issue, including Muslim countries.

In closing I have attempted to reflect on your contributions from both the Islamic and Christian perspectives and believe me, that before I started to write you, I prayed to the Lord that His truth and His truth alone would emerge from this discussion. I certainly welcome your response, but when you do so, please provide the reference sources for your Islamic arguments, i.e. which Sura, Aaya, Hadith, etc. And if you quote the Bible, please provide that reference as well.

With His Grace, truly yours,

Thomas

* NOTE: I don't see this point as being relevant to the discussion, but if you look at the site: http://www.census.gov/popest/archives/EST90INTERCENSAL/US-EST90INT-01.html the Census Bureau lists the US national population between 1990 and 2000, regardless of age. A rough average of the ratio between the two sexes works out to 1.038 females to one male, or 1038 females to 1000 males. This means that for every 1000 couples, there are 38 women remaining. It doesn't seem that a ratio of 1.038 is sufficient to justify more than one wife per man. If polygamy was instituted in the United States, very few men could have even 2 wives, much less 3 or 4. Any way you slice it, the ratio of men to women, no matter age or location, is too close to justify polygamy.


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